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Probiotics and Diarrhea: A Natural Cure

By    |   Thursday, 27 August 2015 04:10 PM

Probiotics are regularly touted as a way to fight off and potentially cure diarrhea, and medical science is offering support for this popular alternative health treatment.

In the world of probiotics, commonly referred to as "good" bacteria that help keep the natural bacteria colonies your body healthy, there is not a lot of evidence-based medicine. But that's not true when it comes to diarrhea and other gastrointestinal upsets. Numerous studies have shown that probiotics help shorten diarrheal episodes in babies, children, and adults.

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Research has focused on diarrhea caused by several different conditions, including that associated with antibiotic use; with infections, especially Clostridium difficile, commonly referred to as C.diff; and various causes of diarrhea in young children and babies, which can be life-threatening.

For more than a decade, research has indicated that specific strains of probiotics have an impact on treating diarrhea, although most often they cannot be considered a "cure." Here are three situations to consider taking probiotics:

1. Children: "Some of the best proof that probiotics work comes from studies of diarrhea in children, especially cases caused by rotavirus," according to WebMD. "Probiotics can cut bouts of infectious diarrhea by half a day to about 2 days." 

For instance, a 2002 study of children in daycare found that administering certain strains of Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus reuteri shortened the duration of diarrhea episodes, a Pediatric Infection Disease journal article said. That research found a significant reduction in how long the children who received early intervention and were treated with probiotics had diarrhea, as compared to children treated with a placebo — 79 hours vs. 139 hours.

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2. Antibiotic-associated diarrhea and C.diff: An analysis of research from 1977 to 2005 looked at the effectiveness of probiotics in treating antibiotic-associated diarrhea and also C. diff, a serious bacterial infection that causes diarrhea. Published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, the study found that probiotics "show promise" as effective therapies, and cited three specific probiotics for treatment, although only one of them was effective in fighting C. diff.

3. Traveler's diarrhea: Alternative health websites also frequently promote probiotics to fight off traveler's diarrhea, referring to the gastrointestinal upset that often occurs as people travel and eat different foods and drink water their systems aren't used to. But according to WebMD, "hard proof" isn't available to show probiotics work in this situation. Although one 2007 study indicated they did, other studies have failed to replicate that information.

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Probiotics are regularly touted as a way to fight off and potentially cure diarrhea, and medical science is offering support for this popular alternative health treatment.
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Thursday, 27 August 2015 04:10 PM
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